I have to admit, first off, that I fell for this fake news story when it broke a couple of days ago. My bad!
You may have read it (and believed it), too. It basically goes like this: A married couple in Mississippi go to a fertility clinic since they are having trouble conceiving children. The doctors run a DNS sample of both husband and wife only to learn that they are fraternal twins.
It sounded outlandish yet somewhat plausible considering the story was picked up and published by credible news organizations such as The Daily Mail and Huffington Post Germany. I mean, they wouldn’t publish fake news would they?
The answer of course is yes, they did. But how did it happen?
According to Buzzfeed.com, “They all pointed back to the same source: an April 12 story in the Mississippi Herald. Some referred to the Herald as a newspaper, but there’s no print publication by that name, and the MississippiHerald.com domain was only registered in November. The reality is the story is a complete fabrication, and the Herald is part of a network of fake local news sites that recently began pumping out hoaxes. But the site’s utterly dubious origin didn’t stop large, legitimate news sites from spreading its hoax to a global audience.
“At a time when the media, governments, and other entities are supposed to be on alert for fake news, this example shows how a completely false story can still easily end up on major news websites. Many of the stories remain uncorrected as of this writing, though some sites that initially fell for it have updated their stories.”
You may be asking yourself what SEO has to do with this, since this is a search engine optimization and Internet marketing blog. The first answer is real estate. Search engines and social media since have prime real estate for getting in front of the eyes of readers and potential customers. When fake news bumps down other, legitimate products, services and information on the Internet, we all suffer.
Imagine if the top spot for your searches were inhabited by National Enquirer-type stories. Would that not be frustrating?
The second answer has to do with advertisers. On some of these fake news websites, real advertisements from the search engine companies were placed. Presumably, the advertisers didn’t know that their ads were appearing on these fake news sites and wouldn’t have approved them if they had this knowledge.
In sum, fake news is still a problem on the Internet. It’s not good for SEO or SEM and may have actually influenced a presidential election.
http://www.pulseheadlines.com/married-couple-twins/62043/ – at this moment the fake news story is still up on this page (Many other websites have taken down this hoax article).